Archive for March 2016
My email inbox has been filling up today with a contretemps on LNG on the Fraser playing out in the letters page of the Richmond News. Since I have learned that it is sometimes a bit tricky getting to see on their web page what has been printed in the paper, I thought it might be useful to set out the correspondence here.
The day started with an email from Viviana Zanocco who is the Community and Aboriginal Relations Manager in External Relations department of FortisBC to undisclosed recipients.
As part of our commitment to sharing project-related information with you in a timely manner, attached is a letter in which we respond to misinformation presented in a recent letter to the editor published in the Richmond News; we’re sharing it with you prior to its distribution to the media.
In the letter, a local resident said the George Massey tunnel replacement project is being driven by the needs of LNG proponents and could impact fish and fish habitat. This is something we’ve heard repeated in the community as the discussion about the bridge replacement unfolds and requires clarification.
The fact is that LNG carriers that could one day ply the waters of the Fraser River would be able to do so even if the tunnel remains in operation. WesPac Midstream LLP is proposing to build an LNG marine terminal next to our Tilbury LNG facility, which we’ve safely operated on the shores of the Fraser River since 1971. The jetty would be built to accommodate vessels in the same size range or smaller than the existing vessels currently operating on the Fraser River. WesPac has confirmed publicly that the concept under review wouldn’t be impacted regardless of whether or not the tunnel remains in operation.
We also believe that LNG will play an important role for the marine transportation industry in reducing emissions and potential environmental impacts associated with the use of heavy oil and diesel.
FortisBC’s Richmond News_ Letter to the Editor is a pdf file you can read from that link
I am indebted to Susan Jones of Fraser Voices for the following rebuttal
In the letter to the Richmond News it is stated:
Whether the George Massey Tunnel is removed, replaced or expanded – or how the proposed bridge project is constructed – will have no impact on the WesPac proposal.
[This is] simply not true
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) discussed LNG ships and the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project with the Gateway group.
The following are some notes I have on this topic. Those FOI emails acquired by Voters Taking Action Against Climate Change and newspaper articles indicate that the LNG operations were included in the discussions between PMV and the federal and provincial governments.
BC Government representatives began a series of meeting with Port Metro Vancouver in early 2012 as the port made it clear that:
“The tunnel is also a marine bottleneck. It was not designed for the size of ships used in modern day trade, which must access the Fraser River in Richmond and Surrey. As a result, the tunnel is becoming a significant obstacle to international trade on the Fraser.”
(Robin Silvester, CE0, Port Metro Vancouver: Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2012)
Discussions were underway about clearances for the new potential crossing and Port Metro Vancouver made it clear to the government that plans should include air drafts to accommodate large ships:
“Liquid bulk tankers with larger air draft requirements (e.g. LNG) should be considered,”
(Port Development Strategies Manager, Jennifer Natland, Nov. 29, 2012 to Project Planners)
On September 20, 2013, the B.C. Government announced plans to build a bridge instead of replacing the tunnel. Port Metro Vancouver was included in the following meetings for planning and design. Emails show that port staff urged the province to design a taller bridge, even though that would mean higher costs, a more challenging design and a steeper grade for Highway 99 traffic on both approaches.
On July 16, 2014, Port Metro Vancouver CEO, Robin Silvester queried:
“What is the air draft of the largest length LNG vessel that we could imagine in the river?”
Port marine operations director Chris Wellstood responded:
“…we feel that the 61-metre MAX air draft would allow for the larger part of the world’s LNG fleet” – tankers up to 320 metres long- to pass under new bridge and head up the Fraser.””
In another exchange of emails:
“On a June 5th a follow up meeting between PMV and Gateway was held to discuss PMV’s height requirement and as a result of that meeting Gateway was going to provide a revised drawing with a 130 m one-way channel for clearances…
…The main issue with additional height for the bridge is that the shore landings need to be higher and longer which increases the overall cost of the project…
…Please let me know if you see a problem with the original height requirements requested by PMV in 2012…”
(Chris Wellstood, Director Marine Operations & Security, Habour Master to Cliff Stewart, to Cliff Stewart, Vice President, Infrastructure Delivery, Port Metro Vancouver, July 15, 2014)
A June 2014 briefing note by port officials following a meeting with provincial counterparts cautions:
“…there are multiple challenges with high costs to achieve PMV’s requested height” of 65 metres”.
These negotiations did not include the public or the local governments. The public have not been provided with credible information for other options such as upgrading the existing tunnel, twinning the tunnel, a smaller bridge or retaining the status quo with better transit and restrictions on truck hours.
In spite of repeated requests for the business case for this Project, the provincial government has failed to produce this information. This should have been presented to the public and local governments for comment in the early planning stages.
Also considerations of safety with LNG vessels on the river has not been addressed.
This LNG production and export are putting the public at great risk as they contravene international LNG Terminal Siting Standards as outlined by the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). The Standards claim LNG ports must be located where they do not conflict with other waterway uses as all other vessels must be considered as ignition sources. The narrow, highly populated lower Fraser River, and narrow shipping lanes through the Gulf Island do not meet the international safety standards of wide exclusion zones.
If that is not enough you might also like to read Elizabeth May’s trenchant comments on BC’s approach to LNG tanker safety
Press Release from The Wilderness Committee and Fraser Voices
Open letter urges government to review project and consider alternatives
RICHMOND, BC – Community and national organizations are calling on the federal government to launch an environmental review of the proposed Massey Tunnel Replacement Project and to withhold federal infrastructure funding from the project.
Resident group Fraser Voices, the Wilderness Committee, Council of Canadians and five other organizations representing over 160,000 members and supporters have sent an open letter urging the federal government to use the money it has promised for infrastructure to fund transit projects in Metro Vancouver instead of the new 10-lane highway bridge.
“This federal money gives Canadians an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and build a greener future,” said De Whalen, one of the founding members of Fraser Voices. “But the Massey Bridge is imposing the same old car culture from the 1950s.”
The federal government has said it will fund environmental and social infrastructure with its $10 billion per year stimulus money. Extra vehicles resulting from the Massey Bridge and will add about seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over 50 years.
“It is irresponsible to be building new highways during a climate crisis, especially when they do nothing to ease congestion,” said Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “Even the mayor of Houston, Texas – with its 26-lane freeway – agrees it’s time to stop building highways and build transit instead.”
Community groups are hoping the federal budget next week will include funding for the Broadway Skytrain project and Surrey LRT instead. Along Highway 99, rapid bus service could ease congestion for a fraction of the $3.5 billion price tag of the proposed Massey Bridge.
The following is a press release recently recieved from Modo
Millennials decidedly more likely to embrace benefits of carsharing than older residents
Vancouver, B.C. (March 10, 2016) – Growing exposure to carsharing in recent years is changing the perceptions of Metro Vancouver drivers, who may be considering selling their personal vehicles in favour of carsharing, according to a new Insights West poll conducted in partnership with Modo, Vancouver’s first and only carsharing co-operative.
In the online survey of a representative sample, 13 per cent of Metro Vancouverites say they have relied on carsharing to get around the region over the past year—a proportion that reaches 22 per cent among Millennials (residents aged 18-to-34). With Millennials feeling the financial squeeze in an increasingly expensive region, and with 70 per cent agreeing that carsharing is “an attractive option for people in my age group”, carsharing among this demographic is expected to rise sharply.
Even Metro Vancouverites who have not yet tried carsharing believe it offers significant benefits, with two thirds (65%) perceiving it as “less hassle than owning a car” and a majority citing the importance of savings from fuel costs (62%) and vehicle maintenance (57%). Half of Metro Vancouverites also say carsharing reduces traffic and congestion (49%) and provides easy access to parking (also 49%); which is a positive trend in a region striving to be seen as green, sustainable and most importantly, livable.
“Our members love that we offer them the flexibility to enjoy a less car-dependent lifestyle. They can drive one of our 450 different Modos – from sports cars to SUVs – when they need to without being tied down financially to owning and maintaining a private vehicle,” says Selena McLachlan, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Modo.
McLachlan says that it’s no surprise that the cost savings of carsharing are a highly ranked benefit among the general public. The survey found that seven-in-ten Metro Vancouverites (72%) say they would rather spend their money on other things than car maintenance.
“With the average cost of car ownership hovering around $9,000 per year, it’s easy to see why so many people are making the switch to carsharing and why we’ve experienced steady growth in our membership for the last nearly twenty years. For many of our 15,000 members, the decision to carshare is simply one of pragmatism,” comments McLachlan.
According to the survey, the majority of Metro Vancouver car owners (57%) acknowledged that the benefits of carsharing would make them contemplate selling their car, including 85% of Millennials and 55% of Generation Xers. Savings from vehicle maintenance (37%) and fuel costs (34%) are the most attractive features of carsharing among car owners who would consider shedding their vehicle.
“Carsharing is definitely growing across Metro Vancouver and as people are becoming more familiar with its benefits, their attitudes towards personal vehicle ownership are changing,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Most Metro Vancouverites younger than 55 are pondering whether it is a good time to vacate the garage and start carsharing.”
As part of the study, a separate survey was conducted with a sample of Modo members, which shows that they are already experiencing the benefits that other Metro Vancouver car owners (who are not yet carsharing) are attracted to, with more than four-in-five saying that saving on vehicle maintenance is important to them (84%) and that carsharing is “less hassle than owning a car” (82%).
Add this to their ability to conveniently book a different kind of Modo for every type of trip – from a sporty Fiat Abarth to a practical Honda CRV – in advance or on the fly, the case for signing up as a member becomes even more compelling. It’s clear that carsharing is changing the transportation landscape in the region and that many residents are seeing this as a positive. Across Metro Vancouver, just under half of residents (47%) consider carsharing as an important part of their city’s transportation choices.
This item was inspired by one of Ken Ohrn’s posts on Price Tags. Not that I am complaining, you understand. One must acknowledge that an effort is being made to improve cycling safety here, but at this particular location not much more was needed to produce something that would actually be safe. Designated lanes are better than sharrows – or nothing at all – but a painted line does not really do much to actually separate out two different modes. A kerb would be better: a boulevard or barrier even more so.
The road is very wide with a large park like central median with mature trees. While the posted speed is the standard 50 km/hr the combination of the median and the broad paved area encourages much faster speeds. I observe that when I or my partner drive at the posted speed, everyone else is moving much faster. Since these improvements were made that has got a bit better at busy periods.
This is the intersection of King Edward and Valley. It was formerly one moving traffic lane with parking permitted at the kerb. Paint has been used to designate a bike lane between the parked cars at the curb and the general purpose (GP) traffic lane. You will also note that only a very short length of the curb lane becomes a right turn lane at the intersection.
If the double white line had been moved towards the curb by a metre then the parked cars would have acted as a buffer between the moving vehicle traffic and the bicycles, and the risk of dooring by a driver reduced. Of course, the risk of dooring by a disembarking passenger would have been greater and the bus stops required a different treatment.
The bus stop is on the far side of the intersection (of course) and the bollards have been put in now to stop the parking space being used as a queue jumper. Traffic backs up down the hill from the traffic light at Arbutus Street. You will also observe that there are no cars parked when the picture was taken (mid afternoon, weekday). That is because there is ample off street parking provided within the Arbutus Village development on the right. There is really no need for parking along this side of this part of the avenue. Prior to this work there were essentially two travel lanes – and a bit of a freeway mentality for the car drivers. The green paint patches are for the driveways at the Village entrances/exits.
Now some will say that additional road width would be needed to allow for a proper protected bike lane. It seems to me that a narrower GP travel lane is already in place but has not done very much to reduce speeds. I suppose old habits die hard. Moreover there is plenty of space available but we do get awfully close to a knee jerk reaction when trees and lawn are threatened. Up at the Arbutus Intersection the paved right turn lane has been extended – simply because the large number of hefty off road pick ups and all wheel drive SUVs had created a longer informal turn lane out of the uncurbed median.
This is the Google map view